Speaking at a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Tuesday, Khan spoke in grave terms about the situation in Kashmir and warned of the chances for a new war with India, Pakistan’s longtime regional rival.
“I came out to New York only because I felt that unless we highlight what is going on in Kashmir, the world is not going to know,” the PM said, adding dispute over the region creates “a potential that two nuclear-armed countries could come face-to-face.”
“This is the time for the world to act, before this goes too far, because this is the first time after the Cuban [missile] crisis that two nuclear-armed countries” would square off on the world stage, the PM said.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, one in 1947 soon after the partition of India, and another in 1965. Pakistan currently controls a strip of the territory on its western extremity.
In August, the Indian government moved to revoke Kashmir’s special autonomous status, dispatching thousands of soldiers to the region in preparation for unrest expected follow the decision. While many observers have sounded alarms over potential abuses of Kashmir’s Muslim majority, New Delhi argues the move was necessary in order to fully integrate the region into India and to bring about economic development.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated the decision as “historic,” arguing it would cut down on local corruption and “nepotism,” and allow Kashmiris to “elect [their] representatives in a transparent way.”
Islamabad and New Delhi have traded increasingly harsh barbs since the move to rescind the region’s special status, with India accusing its rival of backing terror groups in the area, while Pakistan has slammed India for a “crackdown” on Kashmir’s Muslims, and for infringing on its portion of the territory.